In honor of Women's History Month, we spoke with some of the top women winemakers working in the industry today to learn more about them, their craft, and the wines they produce. Stay tuned throughout the month of March as we update this women in wine series with more interviews and be sure to check out our wine list featuring wineries who have women winemakers on staff.
After earning a B.S. in Ecology and Systematic Biology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Chrissy found her love for wine while analyzing soil and waste water samples in a lab. After serving time as a laboratory enologist, Chrissy returned to Cal Poly, achieving her master’s degree in Agriculture and has now been in the wine industry for more than 20 years.
Wine.com: The Prisoner is known for its cult blends – tell us about how your winemaking has innovated this category.
Chrissy Wittmann: I don’t put limitations on my winemaking style and look at all combinations to make the best blend that either showcases the variety or blend as a whole. Our goal overall is balance. We want the wine to be as integrated as possible and if that’s using multiple varietals, then that’s what we do. We have many wine lots and each is a different color, if you will, that adds to the wine to maintain our rich, smooth, approachable style. These are our tools.
W: What’s one thing people wouldn’t know or expect about being a winemaker (or your path to becoming one)?
CW: I am pretty open minded and progressive. Remembering winemaking tradition is good but I don’t let it hold me back in learning through experimentation when trying to make the best wine. It’s not about the way we have always done it.
W: The Prisoner is an iconic wine -- in two words, how would you describe the magic of this wine?
CW: Mysterious deliciousness.
W: What is one piece of advice you would give other women working their way up in the wine industry?
CW: Don’t make yourself obsolete. Be flexible, open minded, and have a strong work ethic. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot.
W: What’s your can’t-fail food and wine pairing?
CW: I am not a big food and wine pairer, but I recently had a dinner with one of the best pairings of osso bucco ravioli and Saldo Zinfandel. It was beautiful.
W: If we were to take a cellar dive into your personal wine collection, what would we find?
CW: Not much. I tend to drink what I buy in pretty short order.
Thank you, Chrissy!
Stay tuned throughout the month of March for more interviews and opportunities to shop wines from women winemakers. Cheers!